If you’re picking favourites for the 2016 Grammy Awards, put down Zomba Prison Project. A win by them would be historic.
Hold on. Back up.
Malawi can be a rough place with rough justice with many people thrown in jail for…whatever. Back in 2008, the acting chief commissioner of the country’s prisons, met a group of young prisoners who proved to be exceptionally musical. He saw them playing guitars made from empty boxes and banging on pails. They were so good that other prisoners emerged from their cells just to listen to what they were playing.
The decision was made to procure about $800 US to purchase three electric guitars, a set of drums and a small PA. The musicians went nuts and immediately began composing music inside the prison, much of it on the subject of HIV/AID awareness. They got even better.
Then in 2013, an album was made when American producer Ian Brenner came into the prison to capture what the band was playing. He left with 20 recordings which were eventually released under the title I Have No Everything Here. It captured the hearts of world music fans and ended up being nominated for a Grammy.
- Gilberto Gil – Gilbertos Samba Ao Vivo
- Angelique Kidjo – Sings
- Ladysmith Black Mambazo with Ella Spira and the Inala Ensemble – Music From Inala
- Anoushka Shankar – Home
- Zomba Prison Project – I Have No Everything Here
I know who I’ll be rooting for. More at VOA News.